Basic Overview of Various Strategic Planning
(Including Basic, Issue-Based, Alignment, Scenario and
Written by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Copyright 1997-2006. Adapted from the Field Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation. There is no one perfect strategic planning model for each organization. Each organization ends up developing its own nature and model of strategic planning, often by selecting a model and modifying it as they go along in developing their own planning process. The following models provide a range of alternatives from which organizations might select an approach and begin to develop their own strategic planning process. Note that an organization might choose to integrate the models, e.g., using a scenario model to creatively identify strategic issues and goals, and then an issues-based model to carefully strategize to address the issues and reach the goals. The following models include: “basic” strategic planning, issue-based (or goal-based), alignment, scenario, and organic planning.
Model One - “Basic” Strategic Planning
This very basic process is typically followed by organizations that are extremely small, busy, and have not done much strategic planning before. The process might be implemented in year one of the nonprofit to get a sense of how planning is conducted, and then embellished in later years with more planning phases and activities to ensure well-rounded direction for the nonprofit. Planning is usually carried out by top-level management. The basic strategic planning process includes:
1. Identify your purpose (mission statement) - This is the statement(s) that describes why your organization exists, i.e., its basic purpose. The statement should describe what client needs are intended to be met and with what services, the type of communities are sometimes mentioned. The top-level management should develop and agree on the mission statement. The statements will change somewhat over the years.
2. Select the goals your organization must reach if it is to accomplish your mission - Goals are general statements about what you need to accomplish to meet your purpose, or mission, and address major issues facing the organization.
3. Identify specific approaches or strategies that must be implemented to reach each goal The strategies are often what change the most as the organization eventually conducts more
robust strategic planning, particularly by more closely examining the external and internal environments of the organization.
4. Identify specific action plans to implement each strategy - These are the specific activities that each major function (for example, department, etc.) must undertake to ensure it’s effectively implementing each strategy. Objectives should be clearly worded to the extent that people can assess if the objectives have been met or not. Ideally, the top management develops specific committees that each have a work plan, or set of objectives. 5. Monitor and update the plan - Planners regularly reflect on the extent to which the goals are being met and whether action plans are being implemented. Perhaps the most important indicator of success of the organization is positive feedback from the organization’s customers. *Note that organizations following this planning approach may want to further conduct step 3 above to the extent that additional goals are identified to further developing the central operations or administration of the organization, e.g., strengthen financial management.
Model Two - Issue-Based (or Goal-Based) Planning
Organizations that begin with the “basic” planning approach described above often evolve to using this more comprehensive and more effective type of planning. The following table depicts a rather straightforward view of this type of planning process.
Summary of Issue-Based (or Goal-Based) Strategic Planning
(Note that an organization may not do all of the following...
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